“explore Connecticut's first prison”
The Old Newgate Prison & Copper Mine in East Granby, Connecticut didn't always house the criminal element. When it first opened in 1705, it was the country's very first copper mine, and was eventually converted into America's very first prison. The Old Newgate Prison became a dank, dark place where men went, and often times never returned. Old Newgate Prison operated as a copper mine for five-decades before becoming unprofitable, and that's when the Connecticut General Assembly decided, heck, why not turn it into a prison? The very first inmate was burglar John Hinson, he managed to escape his cell 18 days later, but for a time the prison also held Tories and Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War. As if being locked up wasn't bad enough, prisoners were also expected to work the mine, and it was during this time period when the Old Newgate Prison got the nickname "Hell". Both men and woman inmates were expected to work in the mines, and no one got off easy. There were many escape attempts, and considering the conditions, you can hardly blame the prisoners from trying. In 1827 inmate, Abel Starkey died after falling to his death during an escape attempt that involved a homemade rope. Abel's just one of the many ghosts said to be hanging around today, scaring guests brave enough to explore the historic grounds all alone. In 1827 the prison met its eventual closure, and 81 remaining prisoners were shipped off to Wethersfield State Prison. Once emptied, mining continued as it had before. Finally, at the beginning of the 20th century, the Old Newgate became a tourist attraction and a National Hisoric Landmark with a reputation for continuing to house the souls of men who died tragically during its days as a mine and prison. Many visitors to Newgate have reported hearing the sounds of disembodied voices echoing through the darkened mine tunnels once worked by so many dangerous people. Many also claim to experience shadowy men and women roaming the corridors, or watching tour groups from the dark shadows. Today Old Newgate Prison & Copper Mine has become a favorite stop for history lovers and ghost story enthusiasts, and as of May 2014, reopened following an extensive restoration project. Call ahead to book your tours, and let us know if you experience your very own paranormal encounter in the comments below! -Roadtrippers Connecticut's first prison (1773-1827). Previously an old copper mine (1705-1750's) which was later used as solitary confinement for the prison.
Currently Closed for Renovations
The presence of copper ore here was noted in 1705 and the site became one of the first commercial mines in the British Colonies. It was not a money-making venture, however, and work was abandoned in the 1750s.
Visitors can walk through the old mine tunnels and cavesThe tunnels left behind by miners burrowing deep underground became Connecticut's first prison in 1773. The General Assembly decided to confine serious criminals - burglars, horse thieves, counterfeiters, forgers - in a working environment as an alternative to the whipping post and other "infamous punishments" of the day.
Exterior stone walls at Old New-Gate PrisonThe first prisoner arrived on December 22, 1773. He escaped 18 days later. Subsequent prisoners were equally resourceful and many escapes - successful and unsuccessful - were to follow. Richard Steele, a "notorious villain and burglarian," held the record of three escapes from New-Gate. Political prisoners were confined here during the Revolutionary War and women were first committed in 1824. Considered costly to run and inhumane, the prison was closed in 1827. Attempts to revive mining operations failed.
Visitors enter the prison yard through 12'-tall walls. The brick guardhouse still stands and houses exhibits, but only ruins remain of the other prison buildings. A modern stairway provides access underground where air temperature is always in the 50°s. The visitor center features a gift shop.
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Old Newgate Prison & Copper Mine
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Credit Cards Accepted
Not Wheelchair Accessible